Chongqing - The Chinese New Year, more than a mere family reunion and New Year celebration, epitomizes the essence of Chinese cultural and intellectual heritage. Zhongxian County in Chongqing, a significant area for the preservation of Chinese culture, hosted an exceptional Chinese New Year from January 26 to 28, 2024.
The event, named "Laowai@Chongqing · International Youth Experiencing Chinese New Year Traditions in Zhongxian County," organized by the Chongqing Luhai International Communication Foundation, brought together 12 international youths from various countries to immerse in the traditional Chinese New Year.
Led by Li Nanxin of the Chongqing Luhai International Communication Foundation, the youths explored Chinese New Year customs through interactive activities, enjoyed a long-table banquet, and participated in the vibrant "Da Dao Qian" Dance1. The event, showcasing multicultural exchanges and traditional performances, enriched the understanding of participants like Malaysian student Xie Hanyi (Chinese name), enhancing their cultural appreciation.
The event also included sugar painting, calligraphy, and dumpling making, offering a tangible experience of the joy and pursuit of a good life integral to Chinese culture. Participants like Tajikistan student Nigora and Indonesian David Vincensius gained a deeper appreciation of these customs. The firecracker lighting, a thrilling part of the celebration, was especially memorable for Korean student Lee Dong Sung and Zambia's Banda Shalom.
Highlighting the depth of China's intangible cultural heritage, the event featured 62-year-old Sun Zhaoyun, a veteran fire-spitter. His dedication to this demanding and dangerous art form, which he has practiced since the age of nine, impressed the youths and underscored the deep-rooted Chinese commitment to preserving traditional arts. Cambodian student Vin Sok Ponloue noted how such practices reflect Chinese culture's profound and extensive nature.
The second "Gan Nian Jie2" event in Zhongxian County allowed these international visitors to engage in the local tradition of selecting and purchasing New Year's goods. The varied assortment of items, ranging from citrus fruits to cured meats, made for a delightful shopping experience. A visit to Duzhu Village in Zhongxian County allowed them to share gifts and blessings with local families, fostering a sense of connection and warmth characteristic of the Chinese New Year. Egyptian student Ahmed Radwan, in particular, developed a special bond with a local family.
The event culminated in a gift exchange among the youths from the 12 countries, symbolizing a shared celebration of the Chinese New Year, transcending cultural boundaries, and fostering international friendship and understanding.
"Da Dao Qian" Dance: The "Da Dao Qian" Dance, also known as "Qian Gun Dance" or "Lian Xiao," is a traditional dance with a thousand-year history in the Chongqing area. The dance involves using bamboo sticks with holes into which copper coins are inserted, and the sticks are decorated with colorful tassels and ribbons. During the performance, dancers strike their shoulders, arms, waist, and legs with these sticks, producing a crisp and pleasant sound from the coins colliding with the bamboo, symbolizing celebration. The more performers, the more spectacular the scene becomes.
Gan Nian Jie: The "Gan Nian Jie" is a traditional festival of the Tujia ethnic group, celebrated a day earlier than the Han Chinese New Year. This custom dates back to the Ming dynasty when Tujia soldiers were urgently summoned to help the battle, requiring them to leave before the Chinese New Year. To ensure these soldiers could celebrate the Chinese New Year before departing, local Tujia leaders decided to celebrate a day early. This decision, honoring the soldiers' timely arrival and contributions on the southeastern coast, led to the early celebration becoming customary among the Tujia people.
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